Overview of an Anti-bullying Policy

In essence, an Anti-Bullying Policy sets out the company’s stance on bullying. It provides guidelines for the behaviour required within your organisation. It details the expected behaviour when dealing with employees, contractors, volunteers, customers, suppliers, regulatory authorities, and the general public.

What is an Anti-Bullying Policy?

Essentially, a well-drafted Anti-Bullying Policy sets out the company’s stance on bullying. It provides guidelines for the behaviour expected within your organisation. The policy applies to behaviour towards employees, contractors, volunteers, customers, suppliers, regulatory authorities, and the general public.

When should you use an Anti-Bullying Policy?

Notably, an Anti-Bullying Policy should be included as part of your company policy and guideline documents for existing and new employees. The human resources (HR) department, the hiring manager, or the employees’ superior usually gives this to new employees.

Additionally, other best practice documents include the Employee Handbook, Equal Opportunities and Anti-Harassment Policy, Grievance Procedure Guidelines, and Disciplinary Policy and Procedure.

Why should you draft an Anti-Bullying Policy?

In essence, preventing bullying is important. The behaviour is unacceptable on moral grounds. Additionally, it may –if unchecked or badly handled– also lead to work-place problems. These include:

  • poor morale and poor employee relations
  • loss of respect for managers and supervisors
  • poor performance
  • lost productivity
  • absence
  • resignations
  • damage to company reputation

Is an Anti-bullying Policy a requirement?

In many countries, bullying is illegal if it targets an employee based on a protected trait or characteristic. Importantly, preventing bullying is a best practice and starts with publishing a WorkPlace Anti-Bullying Policy. Essentially, this ensures the communication of behavioural expectations and legal requirements. In addition, it outlines the policies and procedures for grievance and disciplinary matters.

What is the definition of bullying?

Effectively, bullying is behaviour which is offensive, intimidating, malicious or insulting. Additionally, abuse or misuse of power that means to undermine, humiliate, denigrate or injure are all acts of bullying.

Specifically, bullying can take many forms. It can be verbal or non-verbal, physical or mental. This includes jokes, teasing, nicknames, emails, pictures, text messages, social isolation or ignoring people, or unfair work practices. 

Typically, behaviour which impacts a person’s ability to work can also amount to an act of bullying. For example, blocking promotion and training opportunities, regularly and deliberately ignoring or excluding staff from work activities or work-related social events. Or, setting a person up to fail by overloading them with work or setting impossible deadlines.

What amounts to harassment?

Essentially, harassment is any conduct that has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity. Or, creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them. Additionally, harassment may be a single incident or a series of incidents. It may also be direct or indirect.

Often, harassment is unlawful and many countries have laws and policies in place. Generally, this means the victim of the behaviour is a target because of protected characteristics. Specifically, these include age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partner status, pregnancy or maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation.

Importantly, harassment is specifically covered in our Equal Opportunities and Anti-harassment Policy related document. 

What is discrimination?

Essentially, discrimination is when a person or group is treated less favourably than another person or group in a similar situation because of a personal characteristic. If it is a protected characteristic, the behaviour will likely amount to harassment. 

Additionally, if a person or company imposes an unreasonable requirement, condition or practise. Or, is likely to have the effect of disadvantaging people. Effectively, this can also amount to discrimination and harassment.

What should you do to address bullying?

Firstly, communicate your company’s stance on bullying by publishing an Anti-bullying Policy. This will illustrate that bullying is not tolerated within the organisation. It lays the foundation for the common understanding of what amounts to bullying. Secondly, conveying the disciplinary offences that will be applied to breaches of the policy. Finally, your policy should educate on what bullying is as well as the procedures available for reporting bullying. 

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